On Wednesday, our beloved cat Calvin crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. He was 13 years old. A single post couldn’t possibly show how much we loved this cat, but I’m going to try my best. It’s long and sad. You’ve been warned.
Calvin and his sister Cassie came to live with us around the time that they turned 7. A former coworker of mine had raised them since birth, but she had decided to start a family with a man who was severely allergic to cats. We were living in an apartment and had no pets of our own, so I floated the idea of adoption to Sam, and the next thing I knew, I was a cat owner for the first time in my life.
While Cassie seemed to fit my idea of a stereotypical cat (shy, reclusive, friendly to some people but preferred solitude), Calvin was more like a dog. He would greet me at the door every day after work, and he could never say no to cuddling in your lap if you had a blanket. Unfortunately we couldn’t allow them in the bedroom at night because it would have meant no sleep for us. We tried a few times, and he would jump on my chest, knock my phone in the trash can, and loudly demand breakfast at 2am.
Calvin, like lots of beloved pets, earned many nicknames over the years. Here’s just a few of the ones that I can remember right now: Calvin, Cal, Cali-Burrito, Calvin Johnson, Megatron, Clavin, Clavicle, Cliff Clavin, Clavor-Clave, Autoclave, Bud, Buddy, Buddy Boo, Boo, Boo-Boo-CaChoo-Boo, Mister, and about 30 others that are eluding me as I write this.
For my last two years in North Carolina, Sam and I were long distance. Coming home from work after a long day, it would always cheer me up to come in the door and be greeted by a happy Calvin. And both of them seemed to handle it well when I moved back to Pennsylvania, taking two cats (and a recently acquired dog) along for the ride. Calvin fit right in at his new home in PA, and he spent many hours staring out at his new domain, full of snow and the occasional squirrel. Later, when a young kitten wandered into our lives, Calvin got a new playmate in Apple. They’d chase each other around and wrestle, but in time I think that he came to like her.
Everything seemed to happen so fast. We’d been helping him deal with his kidney disease for the past year and a half or so, but things started to deteriorate within the past month. I was caught off guard when the vet told us that we were probably looking at months, not years. That was just a few weeks ago. He had been on prescription food for over a year, and more recently we started him on anti nausea meds, pepcid, and subcutaneous fluids. They seemed to help a bit, but he was losing weight since his body couldn’t digest protein. He dropped from a max weight of about 14 pounds to 7.5 pounds as his body started to digest his own muscle mass.
Lately, Calvin has had good days and bad days. Tuesday was a good day. On Tuesday, Calvin ate all three of his meals. On Wednesday, it was a different story. He refused his breakfast, drank a ton of water, and threw it up. We gave him 100 mLs of subcutaneous fluids and he purred. As soon as we were done, he tried to walk away but stumbled like he was drunk. I decided to take the day off of work and so did Sam. We tried giving him some of the good wet food, the kind that he liked but shouldn’t eat. He declined to have a single bite. After a few hours of deliberation and no improvement, we realized that it was time. Sam made a quick run to McDonald’s for French fries, Calvin’s favorite food in the whole world. This is a cat that has repeatedly gotten his head stuck in a fry carton. So when he wouldn’t even eat a single fry, we knew that he was ready. He was clearly not feeling himself anymore, and it was a difficult but necessary decision. Tuesday would have been too soon but Thursday would have been too late for him. It had to be Wednesday.
We both took Calvin outside and let him enjoy the sunshine one last time. He nibbled on some grass, his final meal. After a lot of tears, and giving him a chance to say goodbye to his sister Cassie, and our other pets Apple and Olive, we were off to the vet. Calvin enjoyed a final car ride with his head sticking out of his carrier, taking in the view. Everyone at the vet’s office was very kind. We both decided to stay with Calvin until the end, hoping that we could provide him some level of comfort. We said our final goodbyes, and it was over in the blink of an eye. Calvin passed away peacefully and quietly, at 1:30 PM on Halloween.
Things will never quite be the same around here. Calvin’s death has left a hole in our hearts, and we miss him dearly. I’m sad for Cassie, who lost her brother. I’m sad for Apple, who lost her playmate. I’m sad for Olive, who lost her napping pal. I’m very sad for Sam, who lost her cuddle-bug, her little Mister, her Boo. And I’m sad for me, losing a friend who has always been there for me through some rough times over the years. I might have gone crazy without him in North Carolina. On Wednesday, I didn’t just cry for Calvin. I wept. He brought so much love into our lives, and we always tried to do the best that we could for him. Goodbye, Calvin. I love you so much.